"This is a project we started back in January of 2005," Fulton County Judge Charles Willett said. "We needed federal funding to help replace the Union/Bexar bridge because the project cost $892,000. Federal paid 80 percent, the state paid 18 percent and all we had to pay was two percent to get this replaced, which was a big help to us."
Willett said the county has bridge inspections done each year by the Arkansas Highway Department and the Union/Bexar bridge was deemed unfit.
"It was either replace or close. It was getting in bad shape, about to fall in. It had an old box culvert bridge right before you get to the main bridge and it was such a sharp curve people were running off of it. So that was one of the first projects we started in 2005," Willett said.
"It took several years to get the money but we finally got it in July of 2007," he said.
The project involved a complete reconstruction of the bridge. "They had to raise the bridge up and they just tore the old one completely out," Willett said. "The other one was an old single lane bridge. Now two cars can pass on it. It is a good asset to our county."
There are other state aid projects getting underway in other parts of the county, Willett said.
"June 10 they let the bids out on the Union/Bexar road. Edward Brothers out of Brockwell got the bid to do the base work. We will probably start widening the road out over there next week. It will be probably 45 days until they officially get their work order to start but we will get the Union/Bexar road all based this year," Willett said.
The Union/Bexar road section currently under renovation is a 1.7 mile stretch that the county plans to connect with Highway 223.
"Next year, maybe we will have enough state aid money to finish it. Everybody knows fuel and oil are very high. Overlaying the roads with asphalt or chip and seal is extremely high. So we are just going to do the road preparation and the base work this year," Willett said.
The county began accepting bids in April for the base work but the received bid was rejected because the price was $35,000 over the projected budget. After a new round of bidding the price was dropped $25,000 and the project went ahead, $10,000 over budget. "We saved $25,000 by rebidding it," Willett said.
With the state aid money left over from county projects, Willett said there are plans to start accepting bids on reconstruction of the Heart Road Bridge near Saddle.
"We can use what we have left from the Union/Bexar road of the state aid money and apply it to the Heart Road so we can get that opened up in about two months," Willett said.
The bid for the Heart Road bridge will be in all Areawide Media publications as well as the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "We are hoping to get several bids on that. Maybe within three weeks we can get started on it and get that road open," Willett said.
There is a bridge out in the Myatt Creek area, which the county will also be taking reconstruction bids on soon.
"Maybe we will get all of our bridges replaced and everything open in the next couple of months," Willett said.
Disaster relief money reimbursing the county for road construction due to the March 18 flooding has started to replenish the county treasury. Willett said a check should arrive every two weeks to fund county reconstruction efforts.